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DOBAMA THEATER

The DOBAMA THEATER was founded in 1960 by Don and Marilyn Bianchi, with Barry Silverman, and Mark Silverberg; its name is an acronym of the first syllables of the founders' first names. The first production was staged in May 1960 at the Chagrin Valley Little Theater, after which Silverman and Silverberg left the Bianchis to carry on in partnership. Dobama was conceived as a performing-arts environment where the Bianchis could produce their own shows and avoid the usual community-theater politics. After performances in a number of venues, including its own theater in Quad Hall at E. 75th and Euclid Ave., Dobama moved ca. 1970 to permanent quarters in a renovated bowling alley on Coventry Rd. in CLEVELAND HTS. with the Cleveland premiere of Lorraine Hansberry's The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window. Over the years, Dobama has offered a variety of productions, 90% of which have been world, American, or Cleveland premieres; the remainder have been revivals of American classics. These productions have reinforced the basic premises upon which the Bianchis founded Dobama, including the obligation of the nonprofessional theater to bring responsible production to superior play scripts that otherwise might not be seen. In 1977 the creativity and force behind Dobama, Marilyn Bianchi, passed away. The Marilyn Bianchi Kids' Play Writing Festival, a competition open to all children in the county, remains as her legacy. Don Bianchi began sharing his responsibilities as artistic and managing director with Ron Newell in 1988, and Joyce Casey took over with full responsibility in 1991. Dobama also served as one of the founding members of PACT, the Professional Alliance of Cleveland Theater. In 1995, Dobama initiated a late night theater program called "Night Kitchen" for young people ages 18 and up, and pledged its commitment to professionalize productions and employ local artists and playwrights.